The Houston Astros are the best franchise in major sports
The Astros are coming off of a sixth straight trip to the ALCS, a fourth pennant in six tries and a second World Series title since 2017. They won 106 games, their fourth time winning 100+ in five tries (excluding the COVID shortened 2020 season). It is at this point inevitable that Houston will win 100 games and be, worst-case, one of the last two American League teams standing.
Talk has raged all off-season about if the Astros are already a dynasty, or if they need another ring to solidify dynasty status. As the Astros unveiled their #Ready2Reign campaign for the 2023 season, they captioned the tweet, "Let's cement the dynasty."
After Houston announced they had reached a five-year contract extension with Cristian Javier, Chris Castellani of Barstool Sports bypassed the dynasty talk and posed an even more bold question: are the Houston Astros the best franchise in sports?
As of this writing, 55% of voters selected "yes." In a response to his own tweet, Chris pointed out that the Golden State Warriors and Kansas City Chiefs have a strong argument, while the Atlanta Braves have the potential to get there.
The correct answer to Castellani's tweet is an emphatic "yes!" The six straight ALCS trips are a league-record. In the past six seasons, no team has more 100 win seasons than Houston. Their October dominance speaks for itself.
But as Castellani pointed out, the Chiefs and Warriors have strong cases. What pushes Houston past them?
Golden State has more rings in a shorter window, but Golden State bought two of them when Kevin Durant sold out. Even of big name acquisitions via trade like Verlander and Greinke, the Astros have never signed a Durant level talent. The Durant signing would be like if Houston landed Aaron Judge. Instead, they win with homegrown talent and savvy signings.
Also working against Golden State is their reliance on one generational talent. Steph Curry is one of the best players to ever live, but when he battled injury in 2019-2020, Golden State finished 15-50, This season Golden State is one game over .500. If Steph goes down, they struggle. Houston meanwhile has weathered the storm through countless injuries and free agency losses. In their worst seasons, they make it at least to the ALCS. Golden State's great is historic, but their bad is dreadful. Houston's great is historic, and their bad leaves them in striking distance of the World Series.
As for Kansas City, they have made five straight conference championship trips, but have only gotten over the hump once. Additionally, they are quarterbacked by the most talented man to ever play the position. Are they that well-run, or do they happen to employ Patrick Mahomes? The trade of Tyreek Hill and one look at the receivers Mahomes is currently targeting may tell you all you need to know. Yes, credit to them for drafting Mahomes, but in a sport where one man at one position can control your fate, it's hard to discern how much credit is due.
Baseball is the biggest crap shoot of the three. One man can't determine your fate. Even two elite talents can't win you a title. Just ask Mike Trout and Shoehi Ohtani. Your organization must be excellent from top-to-bottom.
Houston has done this through not one, not two but three different general managers. They've weathered countless key free agency losses. They were the first big-league team to take care of their minor leaguers, providing them fully-furnished apartments. Houston revolutionized player development. Their minor league teams are run exactly how their big-league club is, ensuring the transition for minor leaguers is as seamless of an adjustment as possible.
The Astros check every box. They excel on the field, scouting, developing, and now with Dana Brown in toe, they appear set to excel at extending their homegrown talent. The haters won't want to hear it, but the Houston Astros are the best franchise in sports.